Hope For FAA Funding Extension?

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Congress' inability to agree on a long-term reauthorization plan for the FAA has led to 22 temporary funding measures, and the latest one is set to expire Jan. 31. House and Senate leaders still disagree about labor provisions in a stalled long-term extension bill. When Congress last visited this issue in late July, a stalemate led to government inaction that resulted in a partial shutdown of the FAA. More than 4,000 FAA workers and possibly as many as 75,000 contract workers were sent on temporary furlough until Congress resolved to produce the most recent funding extension without addressing fundamental areas of disagreement. There are reports, however, that, this time, there may be cause for optimism.

A potential compromise could see the House strip out language related to union organizing for consideration as an independent issue. Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Friday, "We have to get this done and forget about all the extraneous stuff and deal with the FAA." Negotiations now have the direct attention of House Speaker John Boehner and Mr. Reid, The Wall Street Journal reported, Friday. According to the Journal, congressional staffers have expressed optimism and said that the outlines of a compromise appear to be forming. Others are less optimistic, citing the turmoil of an election cycle and the departure of Randy Babbitt as administrator of the FAA, which at the very least changes the influence of some important players.